Two startling overnight news items:
1) Lance Armstrong quits fighting doping charges, and has been banned from cycling. He will also likely be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, among other penalties. More:
“It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive of the USADA, which led the latest charge to expose Armstrong as a cheat. “This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition.”
But Armstrong insists he did not dope, and that he’s only walking away from the fight because he’s worn out. He points out that he passed tests looking for dope for years. From the NYT story:
“Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims,” Armstrong said. “The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors.”
But even without a positive test, the antidoping agency appeared set to move forward with arbitration. It claimed to have more than 10 eyewitnesses who would testify that Armstrong used banned blood transfusions, the blood booster EPO, testosterone and other drugs to win the Tour. Some of Armstrong’s closest teammates, including George Hincapie — one of the most respected American riders — were also expected to testify against him.
This is terribly sad. It sounds like a just outcome, but still, terrible. It is a massive blow to the cycling world, but I am encouraged that they took doping so seriously that they are willing to risk this furor to enforce the rules of fair play.
2) Anders Bering Breivik, the far-right killer of 77 Norwegians, was ruled sane and sentenced to 21 years in prison — the most he could get under Norwegian law. Look at this bizarre twist:
His 10-week trial ended in June. Defense lawyers argued that Mr. Breivik was sane when he bombed buildings in downtown Oslo, killing eight people, before killing 69 people at a summer youth camp run by the Labour Party on Utoya island, and should therefore be sentenced to prison. Prosecutors said that he was mentally ill, was not criminally responsible, and should be hospitalized instead. It was not immediately clear whether prosecutors planned an appeal.
Experts said they were not aware of any previous case in Norwegian legal history in which prosecutors had called for an insanity verdict and defense lawyers had advocated conviction.
I don’t get this. And only 21 years for mass murder? Norwegian Law, you make me sick.